MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Tennessee is cracking down on drive-by shootings with a new law that will send offenders to prison for a long time.
5-year-old Jayveion Williams nearly lost his life in March 2011 when police say bullets riddled the child's home and hit him in the back. Williams survived, which means his shooter could only face a maximum of two years in prison.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich told abc24.com, "One case like that is far too many and it causes us as prosecutors to refocus and recommit and make sure other little children are not lost in situations like that, or other innocent people."
A new state law goes into effect on Sunday, Jan. 1. Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris sponsored the law that will strengthen penalties if a gun is fired into a home.
"It's given us a much bigger hammer when you have a drive-by shooting," Weirich said. "It used to be if the house wasn't occupied, there was little we could do under the law. This gives us the ability to use Class D and C felony punishments which are stiffer and more serious. It's going to give us an added to tool to go after these offenders."
Those felonies carry up to six years behind bars. The DA hopes going after these criminals will reduce drive-by shootings. She said, "We went after people with guns and we saw a decrease in the number of crimes being committed with guns. So hopefully, we'll see the same kind of ripple effect when the word gets out… That those prosecutors are serious and we mean it and we're not playing around with the people who drive by a home and fill it with bullets."
Even if no one is home during a drive-by, the shooters will still face a minimum of two years in prison under the new law.